OHIO VALLEY — A multi-county high speed chase on Wednesday morning came to an end after the suspect crashed through a fence behind Eastern High School, according to Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood.
Jason Austin, 34, of Lancaster was taken into custody following the chase through two states and multiple counties.
Wood said the chase on Wednesday started in Wood County, West Virginia, with a reportedly stolen vehicle in Parkersburg. The vehicle driven by Austin was then chased into Ohio, with numerous law enforcement agencies taking part.
As the vehicle traveled down Route 7, it crossed into Meigs County where the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office joined the efforts to stop the vehicle.
Wood said the vehicle continued down Route 7, going onto Route 33 toward Athens before turning around at Rainbow Lake Road. The vehicle then turned off Route 33 onto Route 681 going back toward Tuppers Plains.
Law enforcement tried to use spike strips at multiple locations but were unsuccessful with the suspect reportedly driving through yards in the area to avoid the strips. The vehicle again got on Route 7 in Tuppers Plains heading toward Chester.
Deputies were stationed just below Eastern Local Schools, which Wood said led the suspect to turn into the parking lot at the school, going around back toward the weight room. Wood said the suspect crashed through the fence by the sewer facility near the school’s football field. He then jumped out of the vehicle and laid on the ground where he was taken into custody.
The school was placed on a precautionary lock down prior to the crash, with Austin having driven by the school earlier in the chase, before eventually ending the chase in the parking lot.
Austin, who has a lengthy criminal record according to the sheriff’s office, is wanted by the Lancaster Police Department in Fairfield County for a robbery charge and an Adult Parole Authority warrant. Austin was considered armed and dangerous and has a history of violent tendencies as well as resisting arrests and escape risks, according to a news release.
The case against Austin in Meigs County is being referred to Prosecutor James K. Stanley for consideration of charges. Possible charges, according to the sheriff’s office, could include receiving stolen property, felony fleeing and eluding as well as inducing panic.
Austin is being held for Lancaster Police pending extradition to Fairfield County to answer his charges in that jurisdiction.
Two sheriff’s cruisers received minor damage during the pursuit. There were no injuries.
Meigs County Sheriff Keith Wood issued a statement on the sheriff’s office Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, addressing the events of the morning.
The statement reads,
Just a normal morning, by no means.
This Wednesday morning started with a pursuit of a wanted suspect out of Fairfield County. The events that took place in our neighborhood could have been much worse!
The protection of our citizens is our primary goal!
Capturing this criminal today was necessary before he hurt someone.
I want to thank my officers first, they did an excellent job in neutralizing this threat, without injury and minor incident.
Secondly I want to thank Lt. Connelly and the troopers of the Ohio State Highway Patrol from the Athens and Meigs Posts.
Excellent work in capturing this fugitive!
Thank you to Parkersburg Police and Wood County Sheriff ‘s Office as well.
We communicated well with the Eastern Local School officials and security for that facility was of the upmost importance this morning. The safety of our kids and the staff in school was a Top Priority!
We never know when an event is going to occur of course, But we are always prepared to handle and deal with the situation as was this morning.
Thank God we got through this incident without injury and minimal property damage.